Strange case of the Maharajah of Alwar and his expensive cars

The Lanchester 40akshay-chavan.blogspot.
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost,akshay-chavan.blogspot.

Above image: The Alwar car as seen at the Delhi motor rally in 1950s (Source: The Lanchester 40 was introduced at the first post-war Motor Show in London in November 1919 and  it was a direct competitor for the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost...........

Jai Singh Prabhakar, Maharajah of the princely state of Alwar, now Alwar district, Rajasthan was an important Indian ruler. Born on 14th June 1882 as the only son of Maharajah Sir Mangal Singh Prabhankar Bahadur, his reign lasted from the year 1892 to 1937. Unlike many Indian kingdoms which were taken over by the wily British Raj using various pretexts, the princely state of Alwar was directly administrated by the Maharajah. So, There was no interference from the British Raj. However, the foreign rulers had their eyes glued on this princely state and waiting for the earliest chance to grab it.

Jaisingh's father late Maharajah Sir Mangal Singh Prabhankar Bahadur, throughout his life, maintained a better relationship with his people. Maharajah Jai Singh in his early years of his rule was exceptionally good and proved that he was a good administrator with an excellent grasp of nuances of management skill of a Princely state. But, unfortunately, he had begun to deviate from the just rule and lost the sense of direction and purpose. He idolized himself and used the wealth of the princely state for his own personal needs and lavish style of living and failed to take care of the welfare his people and his state.

The Lanchester 40. the coach car akshay-chavan.blogspo

One of his passions was buying expensive, flashy cars and making modifications according to his whims and fancies.  The “coronation coach” was exclusively made for the Maharajah and for his personal use.  The model of the car was a Lanchester 40HP that was introduced at the first post-war Motor Show in London in November 1919. This car was widely considered  a direct competitor for the popular Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and cost only slightly less for the chassis. Better looking than the ageing Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, it could reach a top speed of  80mph (129 km/h). Added advantage was the front wheel brakes that would reduce sliding on wet roads. Based on the model of  the coronation coach of the European royalty Maharajah  Jai Singh had the state carriage built on an extra-long chassis.The Maharajah's car became so much popular that it was featured in the magazine “Popular Mechanics” in its October 1924 issue. The coronation coach car - combination of a car and a coach, it was believed, was one of his crazy designs bordering on horrible eccentricity.

The Maharajah's maniac obsession with  expensive cars and flashy lifestyle, at last, landed him in serious trouble because he failed to pay attention to the needs of people, particularly, farmers. The peasants  and other sections of the society revolted against him and the despotic way he ruled the state and his financial mismanagement. The coronation coach car was one of his symbols of eccentricities. The British considered him sinister beyond belief and deposed him in 1933. He then went into exile in France and died there four years later at the age of 54.

The strange aspect of his story was people, who were very much affected by his cruel rule, did not believe that Jai Singh was dead. So, when the body of the Maharajah was brought to Alwar, people close to him, had the dead body dressed in full maharajah regalia, put him on his famous coronation coach car in upright position and driven around the street before cremated him with state honors.

It is indeed a pathetic story of an Indian Maharajah, who was away from the mainstream life, on account of his too much obsession with transitory, materialistic life. Later, Tej Singh Prabhakar Bahadur, a distant relative, succeeded him and ascended the throne of Alwar.


 Colonel His Highness Raj Rishi  Shri Sawai Maharaja Sir Jai Singh  Veerendra  Shiromani Dev Bharat Prabhakar Bahadur, Maharaja of Alwar, GCSI, GCIE (1924- 1937)